Construction Challenge Is Hands-On, Educational Experience

Story by Tom Hale | September 28, 2010

Twenty-two teams, composed of approximately 130 students enrolled in high school or equivalent technical or vocational schools, participated in a qualifying regional rally in Cincinnati as part of the first Construction Challenge. The Challenge was initiated by the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) specifically to engage the interest of teens through a hands-on, educational experience. It introduces American and Canadian students to new skills, and highlights infrastructure needs and the construction industry's contributions to quality of life.

The East Central regional rally, conducted Jan. 12 at Cincinnati State Technical & Community College, was one of five qualifying rallies held across the United States. The rallies, developed in partnership with Destination ImagiNation Inc., spotlighted creativity, problem solving and teamwork, with an introduction to careers in the construction industry. The industry will create more than 1 million new jobs by 2012, and there is a need for skilled employees to deal with infrastructure problems of crumbling bridges, overcrowded roadways, and aging water and wastewater systems.

"The Construction Challenge gets high schoolers interested in the construction trades," says Peggy Middendorf, a Cincinnati regional rally leader. "It lets them know that there is a need for workers, and that there are good jobs out there that pay well."

During the Cincinnati event, 19 teams (with an average of five to seven members on each team) from Ohio, two from Indiana and one from Missouri competed in three challenges: a research presentation and moderated discussion/debate about infrastructure issues; Road Warrior — a technical engineering and design challenge that required each team to design, select construction materials, build, and test a small-scale structure in a very short period of time; and product development — creation of an educational product aimed at teaching others about the industry.

Advancing Teams

According to AEM, 152 teams registered for the Construction Challenge. Over 700 students from 17 states competed in Ohio, Georgia, New Jersey, Texas, and Wisconsin. The top teams from all five regional rallies will advance to the Challenge finals, to be held during CONEXPO-CON/AGG in Las Vegas, March 11–15. There they'll compete for awards and scholarship opportunities, learn new skills and network with industry leaders.

Twelve teams advanced from the regional rally in Cincinnati. They include West Geauga, West Geauga, Ohio; Miami Valley Career Technology Center, Clayton, Ohio; Southeast Career Center, Versailles, Ind.; Great Oaks/Live Oaks Campus, Milford, Ohio; Colerain Career Center, Cincinnati; Buckeye Hills Career Center, Rio Grande, Ohio; Great Oaks/Live Oaks Campus, Milford, Ohio; Lorain County JVS, Oberlin, Ohio; Fatima High School, Westphalia, Mo.; Great Oaks/Laurel Oaks Campus, Wilmington, Ohio; Madison Comprehensive High School, Mansfield, Ohio; and Western Boone Jr./Sr. High School, Thorntown, Ind.